DC Edit | Monumental bigotry

Deccan Chronicle.

Opinion, DC Comment

Hagia Sophia is the fourth Byzantine church museum in Turkey to be thrown open for prayers again

Recep Tayyip Erdogan (AFP)

It was predictable that Recep Tayyip Erdogan would promptly sign a decree to order the opening of Hagia Sophia for Muslim prayers (on July 24) the moment a court revoked its status from 1934 as a museum. In his attempt to counter his waning popularity after 18 years,

Turkey’s President may only be pandering to his nationalist and religious base.

What damage he has done to destroy a priceless symbol of Muslim-Christian amity and secularism is immeasurable even as it triggers  the rhetorical question of what is happening to the modern world, swathes of which are being ruled by these so-called ‘strongmen’.   

To place it in perspective, the many centuries of history of the structure - built in the sixth century CE as a church that stood for a millennium before it became a mosque on the Muslim conquest of Constantinople - were reflective of a long period of inter-religious strife and territorial conquests.

Hagia Sophia is the fourth Byzantine church museum in Turkey to be thrown open for prayers again.

As a museum, this peerless piece of Byzantine architecture, with its precious medieval Christian mosaics and historical iconography, lent pride to modern Turkey as a bridge between the East and the West with religious harmony as one of its founding principles.

Read more...